Control in organizations is largely based in management control theory with its roots in systems theory although social and cultural modes of control are also recognised. The paper describes a 10-year longitudinal field study of TNA, an owner-controlled multinational packaging equipment supplier. The study reveals TNA's control system as the construction of a relevant accounting at the margins of traditional accounting, using a sophisticated spreadsheet-based business model. Crucial to the control of TNA however, is the role of the entrepreneur through the social control he exercises over employees. The paper reviews various frameworks for understanding management control, particularly in relation to the linkages between formal, systems-based approaches to control and more informal, social controls. The framework of Ferreira and Otley [Ferreira, A., Otley, D., 2005. The Design and Use of Management Control Systems: An Extended Framework for Analysis, Social Science Research Network. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/ papers.cfm?abstract_id=682984] was found to be useful in a rational-instrumental sense but has been limited to accommodating only two of Simons' [Simons, R., 1995. Levers of Control: How Managers Use Innovative Control Systems to Drive Strategic Renewal. Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA] control systems: diagnostic and interactive controls. The paper concludes that a model needs to be developed that accommodates the Ferreira and Otley [Ferreira, A., Otley, D., 2005. The Design and Use of Management Control Systems: An Extended Framework for Analysis, Social Science Research Network. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/ papers.cfm?abstract_id=682984] 12-question framework but also recognises the importance of belief and boundary systems. Only through such a model can we understand the use of management control systems in terms of a control package that is internally consistent [Abernathy, M.A., Chua, W.F., 1996. A field study of control system "redesign": the impact of institutional processes on strategic choice. Contemp. Acc. Res. 13, 569-581]. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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